What’s The Deal With Garlic

By Mary H. Dyer | April 19, 2021
Image by Nikolaeva Elena
by Mary H. Dyer
April 19, 2021

Garlic is pungent, delicious, and easy to grow, but what about the health benefits? Is garlic really a miracle food? I did a little quick research to see what the experts had to say.  

Garlic Is Good for You

Basically, most universities and other reliable sources agree that garlic is healthy. Raw garlic contains protein, fiber, calcium, vitamin A, beta carotene, lutein, vitamin C, and several B vitamins, as well as a long list of minerals. However, the curative properties of garlic are still up for discussion. 

Claims of Health Benefits

Various research studies suggest that garlic may provide certain health benefits, but few have been proven (at least not yet). Here are a few of those claims:

  • Garlic protects the heart, lowers blood pressure, and may reduce bad cholesterol levels.
  • Garlic stimulates the immune system and protects the cells from damage that may lead to cancer.
  • Garlic oil works as an anti-inflammatory when rubbed on inflamed muscles and joints. 
  • Soaking the feet in garlic water fights athlete’s foot and other fungi. You can also rub raw garlic on your feet. 
  • Garlic may help with colds, respiratory infections, bronchitis, chronic earaches, sore throat, flu, yeast infections, and sinus problems. 
  • Garlic contains natural antibacterial substances that help protect against certain infections, including MRSA and other antibiotic-resistant strains.

A Little Known Fact about Garlic

Garlic contains allicin, a chemical responsible for the flavor, and for most of garlic’s health benefits. Interestingly, whole garlic cloves don’t contain allicin, and this is why whole cloves have very little aroma. However, when garlic is crushed, allicin is formed by the combination of other chemicals. If you’ve ever minced or crushed garlic, you know how quickly this chemical reaction occurs.

Using Garlic for Health

If you’re looking for health benefits, garlic should be eaten raw because allicin is destroyed by temperatures above 140 F. (60 C.). However, garlic also contains beneficial sulfur compounds, which aren’t damaged by cooking. For instance, sulfurs found in garlic may reduce salmonella that causes some types of food poisoning, and may also fight certain intestinal infections. 

Garlic in supplemental form probably isn’t as effective as fresh garlic. You can, however, steep garlic in hot water to make tea, as long as the water isn’t hot enough to kill the allicin. 

There are no hard and fast rules about how much garlic should be consumed for health purposes; however, some sources say that “one or two cloves per day may keep the doctor away.”

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